EUROCHAM Malaysia urges govt to restart free trade agreement negotiations

EUROCHAM Malaysia urges govt to restart free trade agreement negotiations
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KUALA LUMPUR (Jan 3): Malaysia is headed in the right direction by signing several free trade agreements (FTAs), said EUROCHAM Malaysia, following the inking of the EU-Malaysia Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (EU-MY PCA) between the European Union (EU) and Malaysia.

In a statement on Tuesday (Jan 3), EUROCHAM stated that FTAs have proven to be one of the best ways to open up foreign markets for Malaysian exporters.

The EU-MY PCA was signed during the inaugural Asean-EU Commemorative Summit in Brussels on Dec 14, 2022, a significant milestone in the history of the EU-Malaysia bilateral relationship.

“Besides serving to enhance the political dialogue on global issues, the agreement lays the ground for mutually beneficial cooperation in multiple policy areas such as environment, transport, trade and employment, to name a few,” EUROCHAM said.

The chamber further highlighted that the EU-MY PCA paves a promising path towards recommencing discussions on the EU-Malaysia Free Trade Agreement (MEUFTA).

Negotiations for the MEUFTA reached an impasse in 2012 upon the exhaustion of options and the consensus was to resume when a fresh mandate or flexibilities become available to both sides.

MEUFTA is a preferential trading agreement expected to facilitate the free movement of goods, services and investment between Malaysia and the EU, the largest economic bloc.

The MEUFTA covers 16 areas spanning over 13 working groups, which includes market access for goods, services, investment, intellectual property rights and sustainability development.

EUROCHAM encouraged the Malaysian government to officially restart the negotiation phase of the MEUFTA as it will improve business opportunities for all Malaysian industries, increase technology and knowledge exchange as well as significantly increase EU foreign direct investment.

“The FTA will allow the EU-Malaysian business community to expand and penetrate overseas markets with easier market access in both directions to the benefit of both populations,” said the chamber.

On another note, the chamber also applauded the ratification of the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) and advocates for the Malaysian government to follow through with the agreement.

“The impact of the CPTPP will be multi-fold, potentially boosting Malaysia’s standing as a global trading economy with total trade expecting to see an expansion to RM3.4 trillion in 2030 according to MITI (International Trade and Industry Ministry).

“European companies will in turn find Malaysia more attractive as a hub for trade and investment activities,” the chamber added.

EUROCHAM said it will engage with the respective ministries to support the implementation, which the chamber recognises as another step closer to MEUFTA.

“In line with stipulations within the EU-MY PCA and CPTPP, EUROCHAM Malaysia remains vested in facilitating trade and investments between the EU and Malaysia and to that end.

“We envisage stakeholder consultations as well as engagements with government ministries and agencies to further enhance and bolster alliances for a prosperous EU-Malaysia partnership,” said the chamber.

Liew Jia Teng